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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: bIKE COMPUTER
« on: July 24, 2010, 05:19:28 pm »
I don't understand your comment on flashing headlights lights turning off the unit?
I don't get that one either.  I've never had one turn itself off due to interference.  That said I did have plenty of trouble with interference with wireless computers.  We have had several wireless ones in the family and all were susceptible to interference from stuff like neon signs, power lines, heart rate monitors, cell phones, and even electric fences.  The result was always bogus readings the most annoying of which was mileage logged while parked near a neon sign.  This has been true for several models and brands (including Cateye) until we gave up on wireless.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Shipping Cases
« on: July 22, 2010, 11:03:00 am »
Even if you are flying, if an AMTRAK station is within reach, consider buying one of their boxes. 

I have always thought about that, but was afraid it might be big enough for the airline balk at accepting it.

Gear Talk / Re: Converting my suitcase to a trailer
« on: July 22, 2010, 09:32:25 am »
Ok I know I have thread about BF's but also considering a Brompton.  They don't do a case that converts into a trailer- I could consider a BF case & trailer set up but just wondered if anyone else has ideas about transforming a strong suit case into a trailer and how did you do it?
I have no experience with their kit, but Bicycler Evolution sells the hardware to do this.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Shipping Cases
« on: July 22, 2010, 09:27:24 am »
Slightly off subject (sorry) but might be relevant just what do you do with your box/case when you have arrived at your starting point - always been a prob for me and usually use a cardboard box which can be left for recycling at the airport. 
That is why a case generally doesn't work for me.  If you fly into and out of the same airport (I don't) then a case makes more sense.  It should be easy enough to find someplace to leave your case (motel where you stay at the start, bike shop, warmshowers or couchsurfing host, etc.).  If using a case means having to ship it empty between start and finish, or start and finish and home, then it is more hassle and expense than it is worth to me.

I wish there was a better answer for folks who do not start and finish in the same place and still want to use a case, but I have not found one.

General Discussion / Re: looking for a new bike
« on: July 18, 2010, 11:03:54 am »
For touring bikes, you're probably locked into steel-- at least partly.
Don't rule out the Cannondale aluminum touring bikes.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Shipping Cases
« on: July 17, 2010, 09:18:56 am » This is an impressive little package and keeps your bike mostly intact.  It can be broken down and then mailed back to yourself. ( also has an estimator.  You can get door-to-door service or drop-off service. 

I used one on my tour last year and it worked well.  They were cheaper for the shipping than I could negotiate with FedEx or UPS.  That said they are still a pain to deal with wrt to what to do with the box when you get to your destination.  If you have to mail the box home from the start of the tour and then mail it to the end of the tour it is a real pain.

On the tour where I used it I started and ended at a friends house so it worked great.  Very little disassembly is required and the bike is very well protected.  The box is not cheap, but can be used several times and the shipping seems to be a better deal than you get if you go directly to FedEx yourself.  If you start and finish your tours in the same place this is a great way to go.

Gear Talk / Re: Good Cycling Shorts w/ Chamois
« on: July 17, 2010, 09:11:44 am »
I really like Pearl Izumi Ultrasensor shorts and do not feel the need to wear anything over them.  That said if you either don't want to look like a cyclist or want pockets you can wear whatever you want over them.

Personally I find the handlebar bag a much better place for the stuff I might be inclined to put in pants pockets.  I do sometimes carry something like lip stuff or a snack in my jersey pocket, but more and more I find I prefer the handlebar bag for even those items.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Shipping Cases
« on: July 16, 2010, 01:10:27 pm »
Preparing for RAA in 2011 and inquiring what folks use to ship their bicycle to the starting point?  I read the article on ACA.   I am looking for a case that is durable, will hold the bicycle pretty much assembled, and does not cost a lot.  Can you rent cases from somewhere?  Thank you in advance.
What kind of case or box is best depends on how you plan to ship it.   Assuming travel within the US...
  • On Amtrak - Use the box they sell.  It is huge and you only need to take off the pedals and turn the handlebars for most bikes.
  • For UPS and FedEx - Use a box that bikes come in or a similar sized case.  This means a lot more disassembly, but a beyond a certain size cost goes way up.  You can generally get a box for free from a bike shop.
  • For Flying - The same kind of box or case as with FedEx or UPS.  Stick with South West or Frontier Airlines if in the US.

The thing with cases is that you have to do something with them while on your tour.  If you are returning to the start before flying home that might be easy, but if starting in one city and finishing in another it will be tougher.  That is why I use cardboard boxes.

The hassle is usually at the end of the trip when you need to send the bike home.  The easiest way to handle that is to have a bike shop pack and ship it for you.  It typically costs $30-60 for the bike shop and $40-60 for UPS or FedEx for domestic shipping.

General Discussion / Re: Recovery drinks and Cytomax.
« on: July 15, 2010, 04:11:05 pm »
As a runner I have been given Cytomax at aid stations in races and did not like it.  Personally my favorite recovery drink is chocolate milk, but I also drink Gatoraid and Powerade.

One product we tried on a recent tour is Gu Chomps and we loved them.  We also tried Clif Shot Bloks and I did not like them at all.

General Discussion / Re: Novice coming to America !
« on: July 13, 2010, 10:33:48 am »
it is safe during day but not during evening hours
What is unsafe in the evening? Southampton? America? Inquiring minds want to know.

I am puzzled by that one as well.  Hopefully marriemb will elaborate.

Gear Talk / Re: Packing Thermarest
« on: July 12, 2010, 01:51:06 pm »
We have been carrying both pad and bag inside our panniers lately, but it does depend on what bag, pad and panniers you have.  Most models of thermarest self inflating pads can be rolled up pretty small.  As was already mentioned, fold it in half lengthwise first before rolling and take pains to roll it tightly getting all of the air out before closing the valve.  For the sleeping bag a compression sack helps a lot to get it packed small.

I used to carry my thermarest on top of the rear rack and just put in a plastic bag, but I only bothered with the plastic bag if it rained.  If you have one of the huge base camp models of pad you may have to do the same and bag it when it rains.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 06:18:10 pm »
I can verify that crossing the Appalachians is the hardest part of the TransAm.  They took a toll on my bottom that I had to quit 30 miles before Kansas.  My saddle sores got infected and were absessed.  I'm in St. Claire hospital right now after getting surgery.  The absess had to be drained.  Its still very painfull.  But, I'm hoping to heal in 2 weeks and rejoin my group somewhere in Colorado.

My journal is at, if your interested.

Heal quickly and well!

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 10:18:22 am »
:) :) Wow, Great stuff. I especially like the wind maps. I had not considered that Apalachians may be our toughest climbing. We are going to start out in May, this leads to the East to West based on best time to cross the mountains in the West. All in all great information. I will keep reading.
Yes I think I read that Virginia had the most elevation change of any state on the Trans America and the climbs were definitely steeper in the East than the West.

I agree that for a May start, starting in the East makes sense.

I see you list SF and an end point.  Does that mean you will be riding the Western Express?  If so I personally would consider either riding the whole TA and then riding the coast to SF or just using the train or a plane to get to SF.  It looks to me as if the Western Express misses most of my favorite parts of the TA.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 08:08:31 am »
I will personally be doing the trip in 2014. I decided many factors of the way im going. Im gonna do it west to east. Starting in Astoria,OR and finishing in VA. Approx mileage 4,200 miles. 2 of my main reasons i choose west to east was the wind direction for the most part goes west to east or some what that way vs going east to west where you might have the wind in your face more. 2nd being getting the worst of the mountains out of the way towards the beg of your trip. Whatever way you choose hope all is well and good luck :).
I read that all the time and in my experience this bias toward W-E based on wind direction is just not true for the Trans America.  Prevailing westerlies do not necessarily equate to prevailing surface winds in that direction.  It may be true for the Northern Tier and I suspect it might be close to a wash for the ST, but it probably depends on when you go.  I never looked very closely at the wind maps for the ST in different months though so I may be wrong on that.

We went West to East on the TA and did not regret it.  There are many advantages/disadvantages either way you choose.  That said I found that the winds did NOT favor that direction of travel.  The maps below seem to match our experiences for the trip perfectly.  If winds are your primary criteria for the Trans America then going East to West is better.  That said I would not make the decision based exclusively on wind direction. 

If you look at these maps you will see that in the parts of the country where the winds really matter (the plains) the summer winds favor E-W travel on the TA.

We chose W-E for a number of reasons, but if surface winds are your primary concern and you will be on the AC Trans America Route I would go E-W.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica: Which direction?
« on: July 09, 2010, 06:49:34 am »
There are lots of reasons why you might choose one or the other direction.  Here are a few.  Some assume the actual Trans America Route, but if your route is substantially different one or more may not apply.
  • Do you want the sun in your eyes in the morning or evening?
  • If you live on one coast or the other, do you want to ride away from or toward home?
  • Do you want to follow the direction US history followed?
  • Winds...  Contrary to popular belief prevailing surface winds favor E to W.  In the Summer prevailing winds in the plains come out of the SE and the TA heads SE in that area.
  • Climbing...  Want to get the worst out of the way early or save it until you are road hardened a bit?  Strangely the hardest climbing IMO was in the Appalachians
  • It is real nice if family and friends can meet you at the end so finishing near home is nice.
  • Do you want air travel out of the way in the beginning?
  • Flying to the farthest point commits you more to the ride and makes bailing less of an option.

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